Robocats Photo

FSHS Robocats team members are, from left, Ella Simpson, Lauryn Gregory, Ethan Smith, Joe Maloney, Anthony Wessel and Johnny Mendel.

The Franklin-Simpson High School participated in the Kentucky State Robotics Championship competition held virtually April 18-25. The team earned several acknowledgements including first, second and third placements.

“This year, even though we were unable to attend a competition in person, was extremely rewarding and motivating,” FSHS senior student Ethan Smith said. “We practiced twice a week, and even took the robot home over breaks to make sure it was ready. Our approach to building this year was drastically different from previous events. We decided to CAD design the entire robot, and 3D print the intake and launch mechanism that comprised the chassis of the robot. With hundreds of hours poured into the design and manufacturing, I am extremely proud of how it turned out. Robotics has meant so much to me throughout school, and has even inspired my career choice. We are extremely proud of our achievements this year, and am happy to end my senior year this way.”

FSHS Robocat team member Anthony Wessel said the competition went better this year despite the pandemic changing the format.

“We were able to make a much better robot than last year, due in no small part to Ethan’s CAD and 3D printing skills,” Wessel said. “There is a lot of trial and error involved in preparing for the competition, in both building and programming the robot. It can seem tedious at times, but it is ultimately rewarding. One of our main goals was to do better than we had last year, and I think we definitely achieved that. Another one of our goals was to utilize 3D printing technology to make a versatile robot, and we excelled at going that.”

FSHS student Johnny Mendel said the team took the theme of “gracious professionalism” to heart.

“In spite of circumstances, our competition went quite well this year, and our season was strong,” Mendel added. “We were able to strengthen our team and learn more about cooperation and coordination. We spent many hours working and are proud of our success.”

Robocats team member Lauryn Gregory said the weekly practices leading up to the competition as well as the diligent work ethics and seemingly tedious work, became fun and enjoyable, surrounded by her teammates and friends.

“We had all been preparing for this competition since September, through the documentation of each meeting as well as the building and designing of the robot, and were all excited to compete virtually this season,” Gregory said. “With four seniors on our team this year, it was extremely important to us that robotics continues after our graduations, and we established a JV middle school team to encourage younger kids to get involved in robotics. With each of us wanting to pursue STEM oriented careers after college, it’s safe to say that robotics really has impacted each of our futures in a unique way, and we hope that it continues to do so for future participants.”

FSHS student Ella Simpson said the hope going into the season was to be more purposeful with how the team executed a plan of action.

“Our team was able to delegate and focus on certain areas of the robotic process and competition simultaneously, Simpson said. “I personally enjoyed the friendship that I built with the team, but especially the friendship I gained by working with Lauryn on the engineering notebook and portfolio. Life has been crazy this past year, to say the least, but it only makes me that much prouder of the boys with their robotic game, Lauryn and I with our complex documentation and observation process, and the success of the team as a whole.”

FSHS senior Joe Maloney said the team had a wonderful time designing and building the robot.

“I have been close friends with these guys since 6th grade because of Robotics, and this being their senior season does come with a tinge of sadness, however, I am thankful for the opportunity to compete with them for so many years,” Maloney said.

Below are the list of placements for the FSHS Robocats team:

Innovate Award — 1st Place

The Collins Aerospace Innovate Award celebrates a team that thinks outside the box and has the ingenuity, creativity, and inventiveness to make their designs come to life. This judged award is given to the team that has the most innovative and creative robot design solution to any specific components in the FIRST Tech Challenge game. Elements of this award include elegant design, robustness, and ‘out of the box’ thinking related to design. This award may address the design of the whole robot or of a sub-assembly attached to the robot. The creative component must work consistently, but a robot does not have to work all the time during matches to be considered for this award. The team’s engineering portfolio must include a summary of the design of the component or components and the team’s robot to be eligible for this award. Entries must describe how the team arrived at their solution.

Design Award — 2nd Place

This judged award recognizes design elements of the robot that are both functional and aesthetic. The Design Award is presented to teams that incorporate industrial design elements into their solution. These design elements could simplify the robot’s appearance by giving it a clean look, be decorative in nature, or otherwise express the creativity of the team. The robot should be durable, efficiently designed, and effectively address the game challenge.

Motivate Award — 2nd Place

This team embraces the culture of FIRST and clearly shows what it means to be a team. This judged award celebrates the team that represents the essence of the FIRST Tech Challenge competition through Gracious Professionalism and general enthusiasm for the overall philosophy of FIRST and what it means to be a FIRST Tech Challenge Team. This team makes a collective effort to make FIRST known throughout their school and community, and sparks others to embrace the culture of FIRST.

Control Award — 3rd Place

The Control Award celebrates a team that uses sensors and software to increase the robot’s functionality in the field. This award is given to the team that demonstrates innovative thinking to solve game challenges such as autonomous operation, improving mechanical systems with intelligent control, or using sensors to achieve better results. The control component should work consistently in the field. The team’s engineering portfolio must contain details about the implementation of the software, sensors, and mechanical control, but does not need to include copies of the code itself.

Top Ranked — 4th Place out of 11 teams in the Robotics Competition

Sponsors for our 2020-2021 season include Simpson County Schools, Tractor Supply Distribution Center, Camping World Distribution Center, Kleencut Technologies, Vermont Thread Gage and Berry Plastics.

— Submitted by Allie Meador, Franklin-Simpson High School

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